Drug Store management: Standard Operating Procedures

Drugs and medical supplies are dispensed at the cutting edge level of the interface between the public health system and the people. The availability and accessibility of medicines at public health facilities are a determinant of the quality of health care. On the other hand medicines are double-edged weapons also. If used appropriately, they cure patients but inappropriate use or errors can cause harm to the patients. Several tragedies have occurred due to errors and adverse effects compromising with the patient's safety. Pharmacists have crucial roles to play right from procurement of efficacious & good quality products, to their dispensing and use. Pharmacists can help by preventing patients from being harmed by medication.

In the above context, the proper management of drug supply and good dispensing practices assume paramount importance in the dispensation of health care. To ensure constant availability of drugs and medical supplies at public health facilities, it is of the utmost importance that store management at health facilities are organized efficiently. An effective inventory management system apart from keeping track of receipts and issues of medical stores for discharge of an accounting responsibility acts as an instrument in improving health care.

An efficient inventory management is a pre-requisite for optimal stock management. It enables the management health facilities to know the current pattern of consumption of drug trends over a period of time and also variances. Key issues in inventory management are service level and safety level. A judicious balance has to be struck between these two to ensure that while on the one hand funds do not get locked up in inventory holding, on the other, no stock outs occur. It also enables the hospital management to match consumption with morbidity pattern and adjust requirements of medicines consistent with demands of public health.

There is not enough recognition of the fact that holding of inventory is a financial burden. Apart from the carrying cost, wastage due to excessive orders time expiring stocks add to the overall cost of medicines in a situation where the cry of the hour is to optimize resources for ensuring maximum reach of the finances. A proper scientific management of inventory thus assumes paramount importance.

This manual indicates the broad steps in the various processes involved but these processes are to be understood in the overall background of the rationale of proper inventory management in the overall scheme of management of drug supply. This handbook is designed to meet these changing needs. It is intended for use not only by pharmacists and interns who already practice in patient care settings, but also by educators and new students - the pharmacists of tomorrow.
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